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Foreign relations of Iceland

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Title: Foreign relations of Iceland  
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Subject: Politics of Iceland, Finland–Iceland relations, Iceland–South Korea relations, Iceland–Russia relations, Czech Republic–Iceland relations
Collection: Foreign Relations of Iceland
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Foreign relations of Iceland

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

Iceland's closest relations are with Norway and other Nordic states, Canada and the United States. Iceland also hosted the historic 1986 Reagan-Gorbachev summit in Reykjavík, which set the stage for the end of the Cold War.

Iceland's principal historical international disputes involved disagreements over fishing rights. Conflict with the United Kingdom led to the so-called Cod Wars in 1952–56 because of the extension of the fishing zone from 3 to 4 nautical miles (6 to 7 km), 1958–61 because of extending the fishing zone to 12 nautical miles (22 km) in 1972–73 because of its further extension to 50 nautical miles (93 km) and in 1975–76 because of its extension to 200 nautical miles (370 km). Disagreements with Norway and Russia over fishing rights in the Barents Sea were successfully resolved in 2000. Certain environmentalists are concerned that Iceland left the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in June 1992 in protest of an IWC decision to refuse to lift the ban on whaling, after the IWC Scientific Committee had determined that the taking of certain species could safely be resumed. That year, Iceland established a separate commission – along with Norway, Greenland and the Faroe Islands – for the conservation, management, and study of marine mammals. Since then, Iceland has resumed whaling for scientific purpose and has rejoined the IWC (in October 2002).

The Icelandic Fisheries Ministry issued a permit to hunt 39 whales for commercial purposes on 17 October 2006.[1] 25 states delivered a formal diplomatic protest to the Icelandic government on 1 November concerning resumed commercial whaling. The protest was led by the United Kingdom and supported by others such as Finland and Sweden.[2]

Iceland was the first country to recognise the regained independence of Armenia and Azerbaijan from the USSR in 1990–1991. Similarly, it was the first country to recognise Montenegro's independence from its former union with Serbia.[3] Iceland was also the first country to recognise Croatia, having done so on 19 December 1991.[4] Significantly, Iceland was also the first Western state to recognise Palestine when it did so in 2011. Iceland also is the greatest Nordic contributor per capita to NATO-led troops in Bosnia and Kosovo, to the police in Bosnia and to Bosniab/Kosovan reconstruction, resettlement and relief efforts.

Through the various international organisations in which it participates, Iceland has also increased its involvement in Third World affairs, focusing on development assistance and trade.


  • Membership in international organisations 1
  • International disputes 2
    • Rockall 2.1
    • Deposit insurance 2.2
  • European Union application 3
  • Agreed Minute 4
  • Europe 5
  • Rest of world 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Membership in international organisations

Iceland is a member of the following organisations: International Whaling Commission. The Icelandic government currently finances two Programs of the United Nations University that are located in Iceland: the Geothermal Training Programme since 1979 and the Fisheries Training Programme since 1998.

International disputes


Iceland has an ongoing dispute with Denmark (on behalf of the Faroe Islands) on the one hand and with the UK and Ireland on the other hand, concerning claims to the continental shelf in the Hatton–Rockall area of the North Atlantic under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982).[5] Iceland's claim covers virtually the entire area claimed by the other three countries, except for a small portion in the south-east corner of the Irish claim,[6] while the Faroes claim most of the area claimed by the UK and Ireland.[7] Negotiations continue between the four countries in the hope of making a joint proposal to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf by May 2009.

Deposit insurance

Following the collapse of Icesave sparking the 2008–2012 Icelandic financial crisis, the U.K. and the Netherlands offered to insure the deposits of the bank's customers. They then sought repayment from Iceland, which held a referendum on the issue in 2010 and 2011, both of which failed. The two governments then said they would take the issue to European courts to seek redress they alleged is owed to them. In January 2013 the EFTA court cleared Iceland of all charges.

European Union application

Iceland's reluctance to join the EU's Common Fisheries Policy is a major stumbling bloc to accession

Iceland has had a close relationship with the European Union (EU) throughout its development, but has remained outside (instead, joining the European Free Trade Area or EFTA). In 1972, the two sides signed a free trade agreement and in 1994 Iceland joined the European Economic Area which let itself and other non-EU states have access to the EU's internal market in exchange for Iceland contributing funds and applying EU law in relevant areas. The EU is Iceland's most important trading partner with a strong trade surplus in 2008/9 in terms of goods, services and foreign direct investment. Iceland also participates in the Schengen Area (as well as relevant police and judicial cooperation) and has non-voting representation in some EU agencies.[8][9]

However after Iceland's financial crash in 2008, it has sought membership of the EU and the euro. Iceland applied on 16 July 2009 and negotiations formally began 17 June 2011.[10] After an agreement is concluded, the accession treaty must be ratified by every EU state and be subject to a national referendum in Iceland.[11] Since the application was submitted, popular support has declined and contentious issues around Icelandic fisheries may derail negotiations. However the Icelandic government is confident an agreement can be reached based on the flexibility shown by the EU in its previous negotiations with Norway.[12]

Agreed Minute

The Agreed Minute was a statute governing the nature of the U.S. military presence in Iceland. The Agreed Minute was last renegotiated in 2001. At the time, the U.S. Air Force committed itself to maintaining four to six interceptors at the Keflavík base, supported by a helicopter rescue squad. The Air Force, in order to cut costs, announced plans to remove the four remaining jets in 2003. The removal was then delayed to address Icelandic demands for continued presence of the jets. After an unfruitful series of negotiations and two reshuffles of the Icelandic government the issue lay dormant until early 2006 when the U.S. Air Force issued an official statement that withdrawal of the aircraft was already being prepared. U.S. officials have since then argued that Iceland is in no need of a military presence.

NATO allies since then conduct air policing after the U.S. Air Force withdrawal.


Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Austria 1928
  • Austria is represented in Iceland through its embassy in Copenhagen and an honorary consulate in Reykjavík.
  • Iceland has an embassy in Vienna.[14]
  • Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: list of bilateral treaties with Iceland (in German only)
  • Iceland is represented in Belarus through its embassy in Moscow and an honorary consulate in Minsk.
  • Belgium is represented in Iceland through its embassy in Oslo and an honorary consulate in Reykjavík.[15]
  • Iceland has an embassy in Brussels.[16]
  • Iceland is represented in Bulgaria through its embassy in Copenhagen and an honorary consulate in Sofia.
 Czech Republic 1993-01-01 See Czech Republic–Iceland relations
  • The Czech Republic is represented in Iceland through an honorary consulate in Reykjavík.
  • Iceland is represented in the Czech Republic through its embassy in Vienna (Austria) and through an honorary consulate in Prague.
 Denmark 1918 See Denmark–Iceland relations Iceland was a part of the Kingdom of Denmark from 1814 to 1918 and a separate kingdom in a personal union with Denmark until 1944, when Iceland declared independence.
 Estonia See Foreign relations of Estonia
  • Iceland is represented in Estonia through its embassy in Helsinki and an honorary consulate in Tallinn.
  • Iceland was the first country to recognize Estonia's independence in 1991.
 Finland See Finland–Iceland relations
  • Finland has an embassy in Reykjavík.[19]
  • Iceland has an embassy in Helsinki.[20]
 France See Foreign relations of France
  • France has an embassy in Reykjavík.[21]
  • Iceland has an embassy in Paris.[22]
 Germany See Foreign relations of Germany
  • Iceland has an embassy in Berlin.[23]
  • Germany has an embassy in Reykjavík.[24]
  • Both countries are NATO members.
 Greece See Greek–Icelandic relations
  • Greece is represented in Iceland through its embassy in Oslo (Norway) and through an honorary consulate in Reykjavík. Iceland is represented in Greece through its embassy in Oslo (Norway) and through an honorary consulate in Athens.
 Italy 1945
  • Iceland is represented in Italy through its embassy in Paris.[27]
  • Italy is represented in Iceland through its embassy in Oslo (Norway) and an honorary consulate in Reykjavík.[28]
  • Both countries are full members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
 Latvia 1991-08-22 See Iceland–Latvia relations
  • Iceland was the first country to recognise the independence of Latvia in August 1991.
  • Iceland is represented in Latvia through its embassy in Helsinki (Finland).
  • Latvia is represented in Iceland through its embassy in Oslo (Norway) and an honorary consulate in Reykjavík.
 Lithuania 1991-08-05
  • Iceland was the first country to recognise the independence of Lithuania in February 1991.[29]
  • Iceland is represented in Lithuania through its embassy in Helsinki (Finland).[30]
  • Lithuania is represented in Iceland through its embassy in Copenhagen (Denmark ) and 2 honorary consulates (in Mosfellsbær and Reykjavík).[31]
  • Both countries are full members of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, of NATO, and of the Council of Europe. There are around 1,300 Lithuanians living in Iceland.
  • Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: list of bilateral treaties with Iceland (in Lithuanian only)
 Norway See Iceland–Norway relations
  • Iceland has an embassy in Oslo.[32]
  • Norway has an embassy in Reykjavík.[33]
  • Iceland is represented in Romania through its embassy in Copenhagen and an honorary consulate in Bucharest.
 Russia See Iceland–Russia relations
  • Iceland has an embassy in Moscow.[34]
  • Russia has an embassy in Reykjavík.[35]
  • Both countries have close ties in financing, which has strengthened the relations between the two.[36] Iceland also called Russia as its "new friend" after having been turned down by its traditional allies for an emergency loan to boost the balance sheet of its second largest commercial bank.[37]
  • The governments of Iceland and Sweden signed on 23 March 1921 a joint declaration for the protection of trade marks.[38]
  • Iceland has an embassy in Stockholm.[39]
  • Sweden has an embassy in Reykjavík.[40]
 Ukraine 1992
  • Iceland is represented in Ukraine through its embassy in Helsinki (Finland).[41]
  • Ukraine is represented in Iceland through its embassy in Helsinki (Finland) and through an honorary consulate in Reykjavík.[42]
  • Both countries are full members of the Council of Europe.
 United Kingdom See Iceland–United Kingdom relations
  • Iceland has an embassy in London.[43]
  • United Kingdom has an embassy in Reykjavík.[44]

Rest of world

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Canada 1947 See Canada–Iceland relations
  • Canada has an embassy in Reykjavik.[45]
  • Iceland has an embassy in Ottawa and a consulate-general in Winnipeg.[46]
 Hong Kong
  • Iceland is represented through its honorary consulate within Hong Kong. The honorary consulate also represents Macao.[47]
 India See Iceland–India relations Historically, Indo-Icelandic bilateral relations have been friendly but lacked substantive content.[48]
 Japan 1956
  • Both countries find common interest on the matter of whaling.
  • Iceland has an embassy in Tokyo and 3 honorary consulates in Kyoto, Nagano-shi, Tokyo.[49]
  • Japan has an embassy in Reykjavík.
  • Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs about relations with Iceland
 Mexico 24 March 1964 See Iceland–Mexico relations
 People's Republic of China See People's Republic of China – Iceland relations
  • In May 1972, China assigned the first resident ambassador to Iceland.
  • In January 1995, Iceland set up its embassy in Beijing and assigned its first resident ambassador to China.
  • In December 1995, China resumed the practice of sending resident ambassadors to Iceland (between 1983 and 1995, the Chinese ambassador to Copenhagen, Denmark was also accredited to Iceland).
  • In April 2013 Iceland entered into a free trade agreement with China.[52]
 Palestine See Iceland–Palestine relations On 29 November 2011, the parliament of Iceland passed a resolution that authorized the government to officially recognize the state of Palestine within the 1967 borders. As of 15 July 2013, Iceland is the first and only Western European country to recognise the independence of Palestine. Full diplomatic relations exist between the two states. Iceland's representative to Palestine is a non-resident based at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Reykjavík,while Palestine's ambassador to Iceland is also a non-resident based in Oslo, Norway. [53]
 Philippines 24 February 1999

Iceland has its representation in the Philippines through its embassy in Tokyo, Japan, and the Philippines' ambassador in Oslo, Norway is also accredited to Iceland; although both countries established honorary consulates in Reykjavík[54] and Makati City, Metro Manila,[55] respectively.

 South Korea See Iceland-South Korea relations Iceland–South Korea relations are primarily based on cooperation over maritime issues, such as whaling and bottom trawling, and on bi-lateral trade in technology and fish products, although there are various other ways in which the two countries interact.
 United States 17 June 1944 See Iceland–United States relations Iceland and the U.S. are NATO allies. The United States prides itself on being the first country to recognize the regained independence of Iceland.
  • Iceland has an embassy in Washington, DC and a consulate-general in New York City.[56]
  • United States has an embassy in Reykjavik.[57]

See also


  1. ^ "Iceland resumes commercial whaling". Greenpeace International. Retrieved 17 October 2006. 
  2. ^ "Iceland rapped over whale hunting". BBC. 1 November 2006. Retrieved 2 November 2006. 
  3. ^ The Government of Montenegro
  4. ^ "Važniji datumi iz povijesti saborovanja". Hrvatski Sabor. Retrieved 23 April 2008. 
  5. ^ Ross, John (27 September 2007). "Why a barren rock in the Atlantic is the focus of an international battle of wills". The Scotsman. Retrieved 27 September 2007. 
  6. ^ Regulation 196/1985. (Icelandic)
  7. ^ Source: Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
  8. ^ Iceland, European Commission
  9. ^ Iceland, EEAS
  10. ^ Timeline of events – Iceland's application for membership of the EU, Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs
  11. ^ National Referendum – Iceland's application for membership of the EU, Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs
  12. ^ Iceland: membership depends on EU fishery 'superpowers'
  13. ^ Icelandic representation in Albania
  14. ^ Embassy of Iceland in Vienna (in English, German and Icelandic)
  15. ^ Belgiian representation in Iceland
  16. ^ Embassy of Iceland in Brussels (in English, French and Icelandic)
  17. ^ Embassy of Denmark in Reykjavík (in Danish and Icelandic)
  18. ^ Embassy of Iceland in Copenhagen (in Danish, English and Icelandic)
  19. ^ Embassy of Finland in Reykjavík (in Finnish, Icelandic and Swedish)
  20. ^ Embassy of Iceland in Helsinki (in English, Finnish and Icelandic)
  21. ^ Embassy of France in Reykjavík (in French and Icelandic)
  22. ^ Embassy of Iceland in Paris (in English, French and Icelandic)
  23. ^ Embassy of Iceland in Berlin (in English, German and Icelandic)
  24. ^ Embassy of Germany in Reykjavík (in German and Icelandic)
  25. ^ Icelandic embassy in London (also accredited to Ireland)
  26. ^ Irish embassy in Copenhagen (also accredited to Iceland)
  27. ^ Icelandic embassy in Paris (also accredited to Italy)
  28. ^ Italian embassy in Oslo (also accredited to Iceland)
  29. ^ [1]
  30. ^ Icelandic embassy in Helsinki (also accredited to Lithuania)
  31. ^ Lithuanian embassy in Copenhagen (also accredited to Iceland)
  32. ^ Embassy of Iceland in Oslo (in English, Icelandic and Norwegian)
  33. ^ Embassy of Norway in Reykjavík (in Icelandic and Norwegian)
  34. ^ Embassy of Iceland in Moscow (in English, Icelandic and Russian)
  35. ^ Embassy of Russia in Reykjavík (in English and Russian)
  36. ^ "Iceland seeks Russian comfort".  
  37. ^ Mason, Rowena (7 October 2008). "Iceland nationalises bank and seeks Russian loan".  
  38. ^ Text in League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. 4, pp. 138–140.
  39. ^ Embassy of Iceland in Stockholm (in English, Icelandic and Swedish)
  40. ^ Embassy of Sweden in Reykjavík (in English, Icelandic and Swedish)
  41. ^ Icelandic embassy in Helsinki (also accredited to Ukraine)
  42. ^ Ukrainian embassy in Helsinki (also accredited to Iceland)
  43. ^ Embassy of Iceland in London (in English and Icelandic)
  44. ^ Embassy of the United Kingdom in Reykjavík
  45. ^ Embassy of Canada in Reykjavik (in English and French)
  46. ^ Embassy of Iceland in Ottawa (in English, French and Icelandic)
  47. ^ . Embassy of Iceland. 4 April 2012 
  48. ^ Prasad, K.V. (30 May 2005). "My background helps me: Kalam". The Hindu. Retrieved 28 September 2008. 
  49. ^ Iceland embassy in Tokyo
  50. ^ Embassy of Iceland in Washington, DC (in English and Icelandic)
  51. ^ Embassy of Mexico in Copenhagen (in English and Spanish)
  52. ^ Iceland and China Enter a Free Trade Agreement 15 April 2013 New York Times
  53. ^
  54. ^ "Contact Us". Embassy of the Philippines, Oslo. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  55. ^ "Listi yfir alla kjörræðismenn Íslands". Utanríkisráðuneytið Íslands. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Iceland. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  56. ^ Embassy of Iceland in Washington, DC (in English and Icelandic)
  57. ^ Embassy of the United States in Reykjavik

External links

  • Icelandic Foreign Service Iceland's embassies and missions abroad
  • Iceland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • European Commission > The EU's relations with Iceland
    • (Icelandic) The Icelandic European Movement (favours Icelandic EU membership)
    • (Icelandic) Heimssýn, the cross-political organisation of Icelandic eurosceptics
Foreign representations in Iceland
  • Canadian Embassy in Iceland
  • United States Embassy in Reykjavík
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